Seniors' sleep patterns not out of ordinary: study

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Retired people ages 65 and above are not have an increased chance of getting less rest, according to a joint study between the University of Pittsburgh's Sleep and Chronobiology Center (SCC) and University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR).

"Our findings suggest that in matters regarding sleep and sleepiness, as in many other aspects of life, most seniors today are doing better than is generally thought," said Timothy H. Monk, Ph.D., D.Sc., the study's lead author and professor of psychiatry at UPMC's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. "The stereotype of most seniors going to bed at 8 p.m., sleeping very lightly and being unduly sleepy during the day may be quite inaccurate, suggesting that 60 really is the new 40."

The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging and conducted over five years. It findings come from empirical self-reported data from extensive telephone interviews with nearly 1,200 retired seniors in western Pennsylvania.

Seventy-five percent said they averaged more than 6.75 hours of sleep per night.  The remainder said they slept less and experienced problems with nocturnal sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep-related or daytime drowsiness issues seemed to have more to do with outside influences such as overall health and medications rather than age, the investigators said.

The study was published in the November issue of Healthy Aging and Clinical Care in the Elderly.

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